My name is Stephanie, and I’m working on my Masters of Science in Counseling (LPC) at SMU. I’ve taken a somewhat indirect path to graduate school. In fact, my undergraduate degree is in Writing & Rhetoric. I was especially interested in editing and creative nonfiction, but I often felt like I was on a road trip without a map–like I wasn’t moving towards a meaningful destination. I finally had to admit to myself that I was interested in working with people and their stories on a deeper level than I could reach through editing and writing.

Studying counseling allows me to examine the complexity of the human experience and channel that directly into helping people. It can be exhausting work, though. My classes challenge me both intellectually and emotionally, and there are many days when I feel like I’m just running on caffeine and adrenaline (which I’m sure most of you do, too!). With all of the demands and pressures of grad school, it can be difficult to practice self-care, but as a future helping professional, I know that I have to learn how to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else.

One of my goals for this blog is to learn how to incorporate self-care into the chaos of grad school life and share what I find with you. I also hope to use this as a space where I can talk about the kind of stuff that I wish I had known or thought about when I was in the midst of applying to programs, when I was new to grad school, or when I’ve felt a little overwhelmed. And, of course, I’m interested to hear about your experiences and get your feedback, too.

Even though it is incredibly challenging, I wouldn’t trade a second of my grad school experience for anything. When I reflect on my experience in the SMU Counseling program thus far, I know that I’m exactly where I need to be, and I feel like I’ve finally oriented myself on the map.

What was your road to graduate school like? Did you always know where you were headed? Are you thinking about exploring a new path? Let me know in the comments!





  1. Jeff Sullivan

    Hi Stephanie! Glad to be on this journey in your cohort. My own story is leaving behind a life spent in 33, 34 really, years of engineering and manufacturing to pursue a life in developing human potential, ridding the world of unwanted addictions, and integrating theories and models to hone counseling effectiveness and efficiency. I think my pet peeve with the different theories is their isolation from each other.

    I love being in grad school, am over-concerned about grades, mildly weirded out about being closer in age to the professors than to most of my cohort, and extremely eager to get practicing!

  2. Stephanie Grogan

    Hi Jsulli214–good to hear from you! It definitely takes courage to trade a successful career to go down a new route and follow your passion, and I really admire your dedication and your insight in our classes. I think Counseling is one of those careers where your wealth of life experience can only enhance your ability to do good work.

    I’m interested–how has balancing self-care been for you as you go through the program? Has it gotten easier the more acclimated you become to grad school life?

    Take care!

  3. Jeff Sullivan

    I had to think about what self-care really is. For my last year of work, and first year of school, grad school WAS my self-care. To me, self-care is about stress relief, and frankly being a student was less stressful than running a company!

    I “retired” in September to focus on starting a second life. Self-care now takes on a new meaning. I’m getting itchy for higher levels of activity, as grad school alone doesn’t really fill up my time. So I am increasing my relevant volunteer efforts, and toying with some ideas to get a running start on actually beginning a practice once grad school is behind me.

    Other than that, exercise (though I’ve slipped over the years) is a great stress-relief, and spending time with friends and family are important to mean. I love learning, so still grad school remains a kind of self-care.

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